I’ve only recently begun watching silent films in earnest, and I find my interest in them grows with every one.
I am fascinated by the ability of the actors and directors to tell a story with a minimum of words, delivered on “title cards.” You literally cannot look away from the screen, relying on the dialogue and soundtrack to keep you abreast of the narrative. There is nothing to the film but what you can take in with your eyes.
Some years ago, I watched one of the best of all silent films, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928), directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. This is the movie to show anyone who thinks he can’t “get into” a silent film. For me, it’s still the best film of a saint that I know. But, I didn’t do any further delving into the first 30 years of cinema, the silent era.
I got restarted after buying a box set of silent movies by Alfred Hitchcock who learned his trade making silents beginning in 1922 in a variety of jobs before directing (credited) his first film in 1925.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched several Hitchcock silent films, including “The Lodger” (1927), which many consider his silent masterpiece (see image above). As much as I enjoyed this take on the Jack the Ripper story, I preferred “The Manxman,” from 1927, his last silent, which depicts a woman torn between the love of two men, who themselves are best friends.
“The Ring” (1927) is also worth watching with its depiction of another woman torn between two men, this time her boxer husband and an urban dandy. It contains a particularly good fight scene where the boxer and the dandy square off in the ring with a surprising result.
Of course, there are also the silent comics — Chaplain, Laurel & Hardy, Lloyd, Keaton, etc., and Chippy and I are sampling them all. So much humor nowadays depends on foul language, I am showing him that the best comedians never even needed to utter a word.